A Letter to My 1st Grader

Lately, I look at you and catch my breath.

How did we get from there to here? In 2006, you were a tiny 7pound bundle with notably perfect skin, a sweet-smelling head, and effervescent blue eyes. Now, you have blonde curls that frame your face, two missing front teeth, and long limbs that propel you toward a limitless future.

You are everything I ever wanted for a firstborn. Bright, bold, and ambitious – with a glimmering heart of kindness.

As you enter first grade, I have a few words of advice.

Start every day with a prayer. If you’re not exactly sure what to pray for, give thanks.

“Please” and “thank you” really are magic words. Use those words often and sincerely.

Don’t worry about being first. I understand that it’s fun to be the first in line, first to say the answer, and first to go down the slide. But you’ll soon discover that the worst kind of people are the kind that push and shove their way to the top. Be content to be in the middle or the end sometimes. Life isn’t a race – enjoy it.

Do your best. Whether you’re writing a story, reading a primer, singing a song, or creating a painting – give it your all.

Don’t fret when you make mistakes. Mistakes teach us. The people who make the most mistakes are typically the most successful – because they are willing to try (and then to try again).

Drink water every chance you get. Getting enough water will help you think more clearly, run more quickly, and feel better. Got a headache? Drink more water. Kinda sleepy? Drink more water. Tummy rumbly? Drink more water. Water is “medicine.”

Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Into your sleeve, remember?

If you don’t know how to do something, it’s okay to ask for clarification. For example, if you’re counting to 1000 and lose your place at 362, simply say sweetly, “I lost my place. What number was I on?” or “Could you help me with the next number?”

If you have a good idea, share it. You are remarkable and the best teachers know that sometimes kids have the very best ideas.

If an adult or another child makes you feel uncomfortable, keep your distance. Never be afraid to tell me and dad anything. If anyone ever asks you to keep a secret, tell us anyway. We’ll help you think through solutions. We will protect you.

Stand up for the underdog. If you see someone who is sad or scared or lonely, be kind.

Say nice things about your family. Tell people how hard your dad works, how he is adventurous and how he can play every sport with his hands tied behind his back. Tell them how sweet your sisters are, how much fun you have together.

Choose your friends carefully. Look for the kids that always have something good to say. The ones who listen. The ones who laugh (but never at someone else’s expense). Friendship is a gift and I can’t wait to see who God brings into your life this year.

Lead by example. Actions always speak louder than words. Be gentle. Be patient. Be merciful. Be forgiving. Be joyful. Be generous.

BE You. I wish you could see the way I see you for just a moment – beautiful with blonde ringlets and shining blue eyes, artistic and scientific, observant and idealistic. You have a heart of gold, an active imagination, and a brilliant mind. Don’t be afraid to dance to your own tune, to draw your picture differently, and to come up with your own answer.

Let God’s love shine in you. You know that “This Little Light of Mine” song? Make it come true in your life.

Say “thank you” to your teachers at the end of every single day. As you hurry and scurry to leave the classroom with your friends, don’t forget to look over your shoulder with a smile and say, “thank you” or “thanks so much” or “I had so much fun today.”

Remember you are SMART. Remember you are STRONG. Remember you are LOVED (far more than you will ever know).

Letter to My 1st Grader

  • Christy Wiggins

    That is a beautiful message for people of any age. Your girls are very lucky to have you.
    Are you going to continue home schooling?

    • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

      Thank you for your kind words, Christy. We have enrolled her in a private school that is two days on-campus and three days of homeschooling. Super excited to be able to give her the benefits of both learning experiences!

      • Christy Wiggins

        That sounds great Steph. I hope it works out great for you all.
        We are about to buy a preschool curriculum so I can more effectively (or maybe so I feel more like I’m doing something real) preschool at home. She can’t start kindergarten (home-schooled also) till next year because of her birthday.

        • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

          What curriculum did you decide on? We may purchase the My Father’s World Kindergarten curriculum for our 4-year-old, but we are also exploring several other options.

          • Christy Wiggins

            We have decided to go with K12′s new preschool program Embark. It looks great and I’m super excited for it. Next year in Kindergarten we’ll just stick with K12 (unless something changes that I don’t foresee, but I’m always open to change).
            I’m going to start blogging about it after we start using it. It won’t be till next month though.
            The options are endless and a bit overwhelming.
            Good luck.

  • MamaNash

    This is so beautiful, Stephanie. I remember last year being fearful that sending my son to kindergarten would ruin his innocence. Instead it only brought out his best qualities even more. Is she attending school outside the home this year? Where is she going?

    • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

      Look at us! Both with 1st graders! How did THAT happen? ;)

      She’ll be attending a private school that has two on-campus days per week and three days of homeschooling.

  • Sarah R

    This is such great advice (for everyone!) I love that you included standing up for the underdog.
    I’m not sure if you are continuing homeschooling, but I know whereever your daughter is, the people around her will be blessed!
    PS – If you did decide to send her to school outside the home, I would love to know your thought process. We are trying to decide for our children (ages 4 and 1).

    • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

      Best wishes with your decision! We plan to re-evaluate each year for each child. This year, we’ve enrolled her in a private school that is two days on-campus and three days of homeschooling. A wonderful solution for our family!

  • Darcie

    Sound advice for any school-age child. I especially agree with the part about starting each day with prayer. It makes such a difference in the way one handles whatever the day might bring.

    It sounds like you’re sending the first grader off to a classroom this year. That’s quite a change for all of you.

    • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

      True. I strive to follow this advice in my own life as well…especially since I am aware that little eyes are always watching me.

      Hope to see you soon to catch up! It’s been MUCH too long.

  • http://jewelsandtreasures.blogspot.com/ jewelsntreasures

    What a wonderful post to your first grader! I hope to pass many of the same things onto my first grader this year! It sounds as if you are sending her to school? We are still praying about our decision and I’m curious how, or what influenced your decision?

    • http://stephaniesheaffer.com/ Stephanie Sheaffer

      Hope you find peace and clarity in whatever decision you make! We’ve enrolled her in a private school that is part campus/part homeschooling. So grateful that there is an option like that in our community!

  • http://www.mombloggersforsocialgood.com/ Jennifer James

    This is such a great post. It’s amazing how fast our little ones grow up.